A Poet’s Prayer

My words are lying, cold and still;
reproaching me, their silence shrill.
With emptiness, my heart they fill.
Inspire me, Lord, if You will.

Should You decide I’m past my prime
I’m still so grateful for the time
when, like a bell, my words did chime –
when You gave me the gift of rhyme!


My New Year’s Resolution

I touch the paper with my pen
and so it comes alive again,
to speak with those I’ll never see –
what message will it send from me?

Will I stand firm; will I not bend
and battle till the bitter end,
determined to annihilate
with poisoned words that spring from hate?

Or will I, like a little boy,
write simple words of peace and joy,
whose childlike innocence and charm
may bring a smile and might disarm?

I look within, whence I must start,
to see what lives inside my heart.


The Prodigal

As I return, late in the day,
crushed by a debt I can’t repay,
aware of what I’ve put you through,
I dare not raise my eyes to you.

Then this – too much to understand –
you turn to me and take my hand!
I struggle for a word to say,
but you just brush my tears away.

Boldly did I dare to wander.
Coldly did I choose to squander
all that you could e’er impart—
the gift of your most loving heart.

My arrogance led me astray.
Your mercy called me home to stay.


Channeling Shakespeare

The paradox
_of ridicule;
to paint none but
_thyself the fool.


L’ Chaim*

It spread.
They tell me in
six months that I’ll
be dead.

So now,
to make the best
of what I’ve left,
but how?

I think
I’ll raise my glass
“To life!” and have
a drink.

I see
it’s fear that binds
and love that sets
us free.

*This poem is not the result of a personal diagnosis, but of too many relatives and friends that have been diagnosed with cancer.


Joe Tessitore is a retired New York City resident and poet.

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15 Responses

  1. E. V.

    Good morning, Joe! I really enjoyed reading these; they are all very good. Channeling Shakespeare is short, but powerful. I think a lot of your peers here can identify with A Poet’s Prayer. You, Joe, are definitely NOT past your prime. You’re just warming up. By the way, I did enjoy these poems while drinking tea from my Society of Classical Poets’ mug!

    • Joe Tessitore

      Thanks Beth, what a sweet comment!
      Mrs T might not agree with you about me being past my prime!

      She commandeered my SOC-P hoodie, by the way, and isn’t giving it back.
      She volunteers at NYC Ballet and it got lots of comments – most of them didn’t know that rhythmic poetry is alive and well.

      • E. V.

        You can always order another SCP hoodie; i.e., “His & Hers”!

        Having people wear SCP’s attire is like having advertising billboards walking around town.

  2. Alan Sugar

    “Well, sir, all I can say is if I were a bell I’d be ringing.”
    — Frank Loesser (Guys and Dolls)
    I like all of these very much. Thank you.

  3. Amy Foreman

    “My arrogance led me astray.
    Your mercy called me home to stay.”

    The good news of the gospel in two lines. Well done, Joe!

    • Joe Tessitore

      I love that you picked that up – it blew right past me!

      Thanks Amy, ever so much!

  4. David Watt

    Joe, I really enjoyed these short poems. In “My New Year’s Resolution” you sum up very nicely the need to look within for a message which resonates in a positive way with the reader. Well done.

  5. Kim Cherub


    As I have said before, I think you’re too modest. Stand up and take a bow!

    I do have one small suggestion:

    “may bring a smile and might disarm?”

    Perhaps something like:

    “may bring a smile, warm and disarm?”
    “may bring a smile, charm and disarm?”
    “may bring a smile, entice, disarm?”

  6. David Hollywood

    I really enjoyed the self examining sensitivity and humility of these poems. Many thanks.


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